Coming off a semi-strong pair of issues, Blackest Night #7 is something of a mess, filled with almost-action scenes that cut in too late and then leave before anything is done. To those reading all the tie-ins, this issue must have been fabulous: at least from what I can tell, Johns did his best to throw in nods to all the major running tie-ins. Abandoning the obsessive, almost signature exposition that accompanies so much of Johns’ work, the unlucky reader is instead dropped in and out of situations that mean very little without rhyme or reason. None of it is particularly hard to follow – all the Corps show up and fight Black Lanterns, the Earthbound heroes show up and fight Black Lanterns, Dove is alive now and fighting Black Lanterns (or, more specifically, she merely seems to exist in the general direction of Black Lanterns, and then they die) – but just because I understood what was happening doesn’t make it enjoyable. Despite a questionable late-issue revelation about the origin of life, the issue is saved by the occasional inclusion of some excellent character work.
While Reis’ pencils are fine, the ceaseless black atmosphere continues to take its toll on him, detracting from the art as things tend to get muddy. To combat that, of course, all the living heroes are coated constantly in monochrome neon lights, obscuring action but color-coding the story for us in case we forget Lex Luthor is supposed to be greedy just because he is now incapable of doing anything but screaming “MINE” over and over. The best that can be said about this effect is that it’s certainly unique, so I suppose we’ll stick with that.
Blackest Night was designed to be just about the simplest book imaginable – larger-than-life heroes and villains thrown together against a common enemy, hell, the greatest enemy: Death itself. To that end, while the green rings don’t make the Corps any Will-ier and the yellow rings don’t terrify whoever puts them on, the other rings all seem to rewrite their bearers into one-dimensional caricatures. Unfortunately, by reducing the setting to caricatures fighting caricatures in a set of spastic action beats spread across multiple titles, Blackest Night has also managed to strip away everything essential to the story. Johns is a gifted creator capable of so much more, but Blackest Night has collapsed under its own weight.
– Cal Cleary